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Bayamo, Cuba
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Bayamo Attractions and Things to See

Bayamo is the capital city of the Granma province of Cuba, and one of the biggest cities in the Oriente area, lying on the plains of the Bayamon River, often struck by the fierce Bayamo wind; and contains one of the most significant educational institutions in its province is the University of Granma. It would be the second of seven cities founded by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, and established in 1513. In the 16th century it would be one of the most significant commercial and agricultural settlements in the island since it was located a bit inland, which would also help defend it from the marauding pirates that had infested the West Indian waters, and when the misfortunes of Santiago occurred, the fortunes of Bayamo would increase. Located downriver on the Cauto River, it would become an easy jaunt for ships with less than 200 tons, and then through Manzanillo, it had a thriving contraband trade that helped make it the leading village in Cuba at the start of the 17th century.

It is still a small city, without much tourist business as of yet, but does offer numerous attractions and historical sites, since it was one of the first cities in the country. It is the birthplace of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, with other destinations including the Iglesia Parroqual Mayor de San Salvador, Torre de San Juan de Evangelista, the Plaza del la Revolucion and the Plaza del Himno Nacional. The birthplace of Cespedes is now a marvelous history museum that houses many exciting and interesting relics from that period and through the modern day. The iglesia is now a historic church site, where the national anthem was played for the very first time, and like the rest of the city was burned down in the First War of Independence, and then rebuilt; however, the only surviving part of that original structure is the Capilla de Dolorosa that was constructed in 1740. It is well known for the gilded woo baroque main altar and the statue of the Virgin de Dolorosa that dates to the year 1740.

The Museo Nico Lopez is housed in the former officer's club of the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes military barracks, which were attacked by 25 revolutionaries in the same assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba so that no reinforcements could be sent elsewhere, but it would fail, so Nico, who had led the attack, escaped to Guatemala, and become the first Cuban to befriend Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1954. He would be killed just after the Granma landing in 1956. The Cespedes Park is one of the greenest in the nation, with outstanding majestic monuments and large shade trees, with a bronze statue of Carlos Cespedes, the hero of the First War of Independence, as well as a marble bust of Perucho Figeredo, where the words to the Cuban national anthem have been engraved.

In the city's provincial museum, there is a yellowing city document that is dated "1567" and a very rare photograph of the city just after the fires that destroyed it. Just west of the museum and the Cepedes Park, dominating a small square, is La Catedral de Bayamo, a large, ocher colored 16th century church that would be burned down in the fire of 1869, but it would be rebuilt numerous times, until it has been meticulously restored, with a high peaked wood-beam ceiling, and just above the marvelous altar, there is a majestic mural about the revolution that commemorated the local priest blessing the rebel army flag. Just beside the church, sits a small chapel called Capilla de La Dolorosa that dates to 1630, and features a magnificent Moorish style carved wooden ceiling and beautiful baroque altarpiece.  As you head south from the park, the Calle General Garcia has been converted into a marvelous pedestrian mall with tour agency offices, excellent local restaurants and numerous shops.